Home page

Public Policy Studies


Public policy programs focus on how decisions are made and the effects these decisions have on people. These programs are sometimes called public administration or public affairs.

Students learn how lawmakers and politicians create and change public policy. They also learn how economics and politics affect public policy.

Public policy programs include topics such as:


In public policy programs, students may be able to specialize in:


Community colleges and other two-year schools offer associate degree programs in public policy studies. An associate degree usually takes two years to complete. After earning an associate degree students can transfer to a college or university for further study.

Many schools offer a public policy program as an undergraduate major or minor. Other schools offer concentrations in public policy as part of a political science, business, or economics program. Most four-year colleges and universities offer bachelor's degrees in these areas. A bachelor's degree usually takes about four years of full-time study.

Many universities offer graduate degrees in public policy studies. A master's degree typically requires two years of study beyond a bachelor's degree. Doctoral (PhD) degree programs usually require two or more years of study beyond the master's degree. Most people with graduate degrees in public policy become professors, administrators, or policy analysts.

See schools that offer this program.

Related Educational Programs

Related Careers

Careers Directly Related to this Program of Study

Other Careers Related to this Program of Study

Program Admission

You can prepare for this program by taking courses in high school that prepare you for college. This typically includes four years of English, three years of math, three years of social studies, and two years of science. Some colleges also require two years of a second language.

It is also a good idea to develop your writing skills. Consider taking advanced English courses and other courses that require writing, such as history and political science. Participating in debate or forensics will develop your public speaking skills.

Below is a list of high school courses that will help prepare you for this program of study:

Graduate Admissions

Admission to graduate programs is competitive. You need a bachelor's degree, good grades, and good test scores.

Additional requirements at some schools include:

Typical Course Work

Program Courses

This undergraduate program typically includes courses in the following subjects:

In addition, students take different courses depending on their area of specialization. Some examples of courses are:

Graduate Program Courses

Graduate programs that lead to a master's or doctoral degree typically include:

Internships that deal with social problems and policy issues are often required. You can work for a community group, nonprofit association, business, or government agency for a term. Schools coordinate their programs locally and often work with organizations in Washington, DC. In a few cases, internships are offered internationally.

Things to Know

A bachelor's degree in public policy may be a good starting point for further study in law, business, economics, political science, sociology, journalism, and medicine.

Often, graduate degrees in public policy can be combined with graduate study in areas such as law, business, economics, medicine, theology, and education.

Most graduates from public policy programs work for government agencies and nonprofit groups. You can be a congressional staff member, budget analyst, or lobbyist. You can also work for corporations, schools, or consulting firms. All these jobs require skills such as critical thinking, research, analysis, and public speaking.


East Side Area

Central Washington University

Washington State University - Pullman

King-Snohomish Area

Bastyr University

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University - Everett

Seattle Central College

Seattle Pacific University

Seattle University

University of Washington - Bothell

University of Washington - Seattle

Kitsap Area

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University - Whidbey Island

Spokane Area

Eastern Washington University

Gonzaga University

Tacoma Area

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University - Joint Base Lewis-McChord

Evergreen State College, The (Tacoma Campus)

Pacific Lutheran University

University of Puget Sound

University of Washington - Tacoma

West Side Area

Evergreen State College, The

Saint Martin's University

Western Washington University